The world famous Boracay Island will be open to tourist once again on October 26, after being closed earlier this year because of over tourism and need a rehabilitation work.
Bernadette Romulo-Puyat, secretary of Philippines Department of Tourism, said that Boracay would reopen in three phases, with the first next month. A further soft reopening will follow in April next year before a full opening next December.
He said the officials are managing the tourist expectations since the full rehabilitation will not yet be completed until the end of 2019. Before its formal opening, a dry run for local tourists will be held from October 15 to 25.
“October is only a soft opening… how can you rehabilitate an island under a state of calamity in only six months? We are managing expectations. It will be open but don’t expect all the roads to be completed,” he said as cited by cntraveler.com
So, what can we expect on October 26? Here some list that we gathered from Rappler.com:
Limited number of tourists
The number of visitors who can be in Boracay at one time will be capped to 19,215 tourists at any given time; the Boracay inter-agency task force will be limiting the number of people entering the island daily. Previously, according to government data, some 45,000 tourists visited Boracay every day.
Tourism Secretary Bernadette Puyat said that only 6,405 tourists would be allowed to enter Boracay daily, assuming that they will be staying for three days. The government is also planning to issue access cards to monitor entry to the island.
No more beach parties
The government will also ban parties on the beach. Environment Secretary Roy Cimatu said that partying will still be allowed, but only within establishments.
“We want it to be more as it is, we want it to be more peaceful. We want to promote sustainable tourism,” Cimatu echoed Romulo-Puyat warning.
Puyat earlier said that visitors could expect a “more peaceful” Boracay, with the government also banning the annual Labor Day parties dubbed “Laboracay.”
During a House committee hearing on September 28, Environment Undersecretary Sherwin Rigor also said they would require businesses to have a noise insulation system within bars and restaurants to “let some tourists staying within the commercial areas sleep.”
Cimatu said the government was looking into “safer alternatives” for fire dancing displays traditionally held on the beach.
No water activities
Diving and other water activities will be suspended as well. Environment officials said that these have contributed to the degradation of the marine ecosystem.
Rigor said that “more time is needed to rehabilitate the corals and to boost marine biodiversity.”
No beachfront obstructions
Placing tables and chairs along the beachfront will be banned, as it limits movement in the area. This means that massage chairs put up by masseuses in Boracay, as well as henna tattoo pop-ups, will no longer be there.
Rigor also said that setting up small fences to mark establishments’ territories will not be allowed, along with the installation of electrical lights on coconut trees, as this “destroys the natural environment.”
Illegal structures violating the 25+5-meter easement rule were demolished, giving wider walking areas for visitors.
Regulation of sandcastle-making
The government will also be regulating sandcastle-making along Boracay shores. Rigor said that some residents “are just making a business out of the sand.”
A smoking ban along the beachfront will be strictly enforced.
The government will also be regulating vendors entering the island.
The Department of Environment and Natural Resources’s carrying capacity study found that there are a total of 13,605 migrant workers and 22,395 stay-in workers. Cimatu said they need to relocate some 6,000 workers to decongest the island.
No more single-use plastics
The Malay local government will enforce a local ordinance prohibiting single-use plastics.
Firms will not be allowed to hand out plastic straws, bags, or Styrofoams. Establishments will also be encouraged to use environment-friendly alternatives for toiletries. Violators will be penalized.
Sources: rappler.com, cntraveler.com, news.com.au